Why you must classify UK imports and exports

Why classifying goods that you’re moving to or from the UK using commodity codes is important.

Why you should classify your goods

You, as the importer or exporter are responsible for the correct tariff classification of your goods. Union Customs Code Regulation 952/2013 Article 15 refers.

Classify goods and commodities to:

  • identify what duties and controls apply
  • make correct import and export declarations
  • make sure correct customs declarations and Intrastat returns are made

Classifying your goods correctly means that you:

  • pay the correct amount of duty and VAT
  • know if duty is suspended on any of your goods
  • know if any preferential duty rates can be applied
  • know if you need to obtain an import or export licence for items such as:
    • plant and animal products on health and conservation grounds
    • firearms
    • hazardous materials
    • know if excise or anti-dumping duties apply
    • avoid paying interest on back-payments for incorrect classification
    • avoid seizure of your goods or delays to their movement

Some goods (such as those covered by the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, anti-dumping duties or tariff quotas) are subject to specific controls.

By correctly classifying these products you’ll know what measures apply to them.

Find out how to classify goods and commodities.

What commodity codes are used for

All imports or exports (including goods sent to the UK from abroad) must be declared to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) using a commodity code.

HMRC use commodity codes in the UK Trade Tariff to classify individual products.

Commodity codes are also used on import and export declarations and Intrastat returns.

Other government departments also rely on tariff classification for licences and other documents.

Published 22 June 2016